ATLANTA – Duke overcame a slow start to win its third straight ACC road contest, defeating Georgia Tech 3-1 (19-25, 25-23, 25-14, 25-19) Friday evening in O’Keefe Gymnasium.
“It was a great team effort and it was a great win,” said head coach Jolene Nagel. “We’re still continuing to develop and improve on the season. It was fun to see our team play in this environment and control the tempo after the first set. This team just works really hard and that’s what they did tonight. I’m really proud of their effort and performance against a good team on their home court.”
Duke (14-8, 6-5 ACC) received solid contributions from hitters Jessi Bartholomew and Samantha Amos against the Yellow Jackets (10-12, 5-6 ACC). Bartholomew’s 14 kills paced the Blue Devils, while Amos chipped in nine. The pair also combined for a .298 hitting percentage on 57 swings.
Friday’s match marked Bartholomew’s fourth straight in double-digit kills. The Newnan, Ga., native is hitting .288 with 51 kills on 132 attempts during that span.
Freshman outside hitter Payton Schwantz joined Bartholomew in double-digit kills with 10. Schwantz now has 16 matches of 10 or more kills to her credit.
“We wanted to get our middles established,” Nagel added. “Our setters did a good job distributing the ball. The moved the ball around.”
Senior libero Nicole Elattrache led all players, totaling 17 digs to anchor the backline. Senior outside hitter Cadie Bates picked up 15 digs to go along with six kills, three aces and three blocks. In addition, setter Sarah Nelson collected 14 digs and 26 digs for her third double-double of the season.
Bates’ three aces highlighted a strong Blue Devil effort behind the service line. Duke totaled eight aces to just one for Georgia Tech.
Georgia Tech shrugged off an early Duke lead to claim the first set, 25-19. The Blue Devils led 5-1 before the Yellow Jackets put together two separate runs to take the lead. Georgia Tech totaled 16 kills and hit .293 in the first-set win.
Duke displayed its poise despite the deficit, settling in after the first. The Blue Devils leaned on Schwantz in the second and the freshman delivered six kills to help Duke claim a 25-23 decision.
“After the first set, we were able to slow things down to have better ball control,” Nagel added. “We started serving better as well and that made a difference for us.”
The Blue Devils’ momentum carried over into a decisive third. Duke bolted to a 10-6 lead, then continued to extend its margin, resulting in a 20-10 advantage. The Blue Devils did not allow the Yellow Jackets back into the frame, taking it 25-14.
The two squads traded early fourth-set runs before Duke took control with a 5-0 stretch to make it a 13-9 game. The Blue Devils kept up the pressure and did not relinquish the lead the remainder of the contest, winning the fourth 25-19.
“From the very beginning, I felt our team was ready to play,” Nagel said. “They were doing the things we asked them to do. It was a matter of us settling down and controlling the ball better.”
Duke takes the court in its fourth straight road ACC match at 1 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 29 against Clemson.